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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 11, 2014

In-Depth Issue:

Obama to Netanyahu: U.S. Willing to Mediate Israel-Hamas Truce - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
The U.S. is making every effort to deter an Israeli ground operation in Gaza, with President Barack Obama telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night that Washington is willing to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Obama also relayed concerns about a Palestinian-American teenager who was detained and apparently beaten by Israeli authorities. Obama says Israel has worked to resolve that situation.
The two leaders also discussed Iran. Obama says the U.S. won't accept any deal that doesn't ensure Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.

Israel-Turkey Ties Will Not Normalize unless Gaza Assault Stops, says PM Erdogan (Hurriyet - Turkey)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on July 10 that ties with Israel would not return to normal unless the Netanyahu government ceased its deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip. You will first stop this oppression. If not, it is not possible to realize normalization between Turkey and Israel, Erdogan said.
Erdogan called Palestinian leaders amid Israeli military operations. The prime minister discussed the developments in Palestine with President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. He reportedly called on the two leaders to stand in unity against Israeli attacks, also stressing the need for action from the international community for Gaza in order to stop Israeli attacks and provide humanitarian assistance.

A Guide to Hamas' Rockets (Global Security)
The rockets, origins, capabilities, and ranges.

Infographic: How Far Can Gaza's Rockets Reach in Israel (Globe and Mail - Canada)

Video: CNN's Jake Tapper Challenges Palestinian Spokeswoman on Human Shields (CNN/Youtube)

Video: When Hamas Puts Civilians in the Line of Fire (IDF)
Hamas places weapons and missile launchers in densely populated areas. They also send men, woman and children to act as human shields for terrorists. The IDF takes precautions and does all in its power to limit civilian casualties and carry out precision strikes in Gaza.

Jerusalem Film Festival Gets Underway - Andreas Wiseman (Screen Daily)
The 31st Jerusalem Film Festival gets underway this week despite the escalating troubles in the region.
No doubt about it, the festival takes place as planned, said CEO Noa Regev yesterday. We are continuing our lives in the best way possible with the situation around us.
More than 200 films from around 50 countries will screen at the enlarged event, which will host industry heavyweights including Spike Jonze, Park Chan Wook, Ulrich Seidl and David Mamet.

Numbers Dont Tell the Mideast Story - Thane Rosenbaum (Daily Beast)
Retaliatory responses in the Gaza settings will invariably result in equations that simply wont add up to equivalent losses.
Hamas fires rockets the way Brazilians dance: all over the place. They have launched thousands of them at Israel since 2005unsuccessfully but indiscriminately, without any regard to where they might land.
When it comes to its retaliatory airstrikes, Israel calls the cell phone numbers of the Palestinians whose houses are about to be bombed.
Paradoxically the world is holding Israel responsible for Hamas being unable to shoot straight. Israels moral position would be stronger if the casualty count was more equal. But under what moral principle must a nation mimic both the madness and the misdirection of its enemy?

Israel Continues Caring for Gaza Patients (Israel 21c)
Despite the terrifying barrage of missiles, air-raid sirens and Red Alert warnings in half of Israel this week, Israeli hospitals that regularly provide medical care to patients from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority have continued to do so.
Haifas Rambam Health Care Campus reported today that its hospitalized patients include three adults and eight children from Gaza, and three adults and two children from the PA. Most of the hospitalized children are in the pediatric oncology or nephrology wards.
Earlier this week, four preschoolers from Gaza arrived for lifesaving cardiac care at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon through Save a Childs Heart.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Rockets from Both Gaza and Lebanon Strike Israel - William Booth, Ruth Eglash and Griff Witte
    Rocket fire from both Gaza and Lebanon struck Israel Friday morning as fears of a possible Israeli ground invasion rose in the Gaza Strip as Israel issued warnings to residents of the coastal enclaves northeast corner, advising them to leave their border-area homes and stay away.
    A rocket from Hamas-controlled Gaza hit a gas station in the Israeli city of Ashdod, seriously injuring one and wounding two others. (Washington Post)
  • How Long Can Israel's Air Campaign Go On? - Karl Vick
    This is not a classic Arab-Israeli conflict, where it goes on for a couple of weeks and then the great powers intervene, said Dore Gold, a former Israeli U.N. ambassador who now heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Hamas, he noted, is not only listed by Europe and Washington as a terrorist organization, it also lacks backing in the Arab world, which is preoccupied with sectarian divisions and leery of its Muslim Brotherhood roots. Its political weakness moved the militant group to make the concessions required to complete a long-promised unity government with the secular Fatah faction led by Abbas, but the deal has failed to produce any evidence at all that bringing Hamas in to the tent would moderate its behavior. Theyre not acting like a terror group on its way to governing, Gold said. Theyre behaving in the worst possible way. (Time)
  • Sanctions Against a Hizbullah Front Company
    The United States targeted a key Hizbullah procurement network by designating brothers Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz; their business, Stars Group Holding, which is based in Beirut and has subsidiaries in China and the UAE; and certain managers and individuals who supported their illicit activities.
    Hizbullah relies heavily on front companies such as Stars Group Holding, which continue to procure dual-use material for the organization to enhance its military capabilities. Stars Group Holding has covertly purchased sophisticated electronics and other technology from suppliers around the world, including a range of engines, communications, electronics, and navigation equipment. These materials have directly supported Hizbullahs development of unmanned aerial vehicles for its destructive military activities in Syria. (U.S. State Department)
  • Remaining Senate Support for PA Unity Erodes in Face of Rocket Attacks - Rebecca-Shimoni Stoil
    As senators submitted a bipartisan resolution in support of Israels right to defend its citizens in the face of rocket attacks, a key Democratic senator hosted Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Defense Attach Major General Yaacob Ayish. They briefed members of U.S. Senates Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees on Operation Protective Edge at the invitation of Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs.
    Kaine was a co-sponsor of a Senate resolution expressing support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization that was introduced Thursday by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
    According to a statement issued by the senators, the resolution reaffirms the United States support for Israels right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel; condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel; calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; and calls on Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Rockets Fired from Lebanon as Attacks from Gaza Continue
    The rockets fired from Lebanon that hit Metulla early Friday were likely fired by a Palestinian group that identifies with Hamas, say defense sources. This would indicate that the Lebanon rockets do not represent an escalation and broadening of the conflict by the entry of other groups like Hizbullah. The IDF responds with artillery fire into Lebanon. (Times of Israel)
    See also One Arrested in Lebanon in Connection to Rocket Fire on Israel - Roi Kais
    Official Lebanese media has reported that security forces have arrested one man in south Lebanon under suspicion of taking part in rocket fire on Israel. Blood spots were found in his vehicle apparently belonging to the man who was injured as he fired a rocket. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Cease-fire with Hamas Is Not on Israel's Agenda - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday that a cease-fire with Hamas was not on the agenda. Netanyahu also stressed that he had received understanding and support from every foreign leader he had spoken to in the last day. "French President Francois Hollande told me that I am right and even issued a statement condemning the rocket fire afterward," Netanyahu said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • PA and Other Arab Reactions to the Gaza Crisis - David Pollock
    The most striking aspect of ongoing Arab reactions to the latest Hamas-Israeli clashes is an act of omission: the Palestinian Authority (PA) and President Mahmoud Abbas are not calling for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities. This contradicts Abbas's recent declarations that the new PA government and its Hamas backers would honor past PA commitments regarding nonviolence against Israel. A new statement from Abbas's office claims that "the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves by all legitimate means" against "Israeli escalation."
    In today's latest twist, Abbas and the PA are not just calling for Israel to stop its airstrikes against Hamas targets inside Gaza. According to several plausible press reports, they are also threatening to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court for the "war crime" or "genocide" of responding to Hamas rocket attacks.
    High-level U.S. statements, from President Obama on down, have so far not asked Abbas to account for the PA's failure to oppose the Hamas rocket fire. Washington should unconditionally demand that Hamas stop shooting rockets into Israel -- and that the PA fulfill its longstanding commitment to precisely that position. (Washington Institute)
  • Hamas Is Hurting Palestinians - Editorial
    Confronted with Hamass rocket attacks against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and its main nuclear facility, the international community must recognize Israels right to defend itself. Responding to waves of Iranian and Syrian missiles launched by Hamas, Israel has retaliated with pinpoint airstrikes against terrorist targets in Gaza that have killed 60 people. With the usual lack of balance, Israel is being denounced while Hamass aggression, which caused the crisis, is overlooked.
    Hamass culpability and motives are transparent. Its charter denies the reality of the Holocaust and it is committed to armed struggle against Israels right to exist. While Hamas prevails in Gaza, the Palestinian people will remain without a homeland and will continue snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as they have many times.
    The international community must lay the blame where it belongs and not be hoodwinked. Calls on Israel and Hamas for mutual restraint ignore the vital facts. Hamass terrorist aggression and Israels inviolable right to protect itself are chalk and cheese. (The Australian)
  • Ground Operation Necessary - Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan
    A mere year and a half after Operation Pillar of Defense, we now, unsurprisingly, find ourselves facing another "round" of terrorist rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The range of the rockets has expanded, with more than half of Israel's population now under threat. This time, a lesson must be taught. "Returning the quiet" will not be enough. We must change the current situation, in which a terrorist group can shower rockets on a strong country like Israel.
    The purposes of Operation Protective Edge must be defined precisely: the toppling of the Hamas regime and the elimination of all rockets in Gaza. Is it possible to defeat a terrorist group? Can these objectives be achieved using military force? The answer to both questions is yes. Will this require a ground operation? Will such an operation involve the loss of troops? Yes and yes. Every military commander knows the challenge is to fulfill the mission and protect soldiers, in that order.
    Israel has a national need, a mandate from the people and a strong military. Now we need to win -- to topple the Hamas regime and cleanse Gaza of rockets. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Under Attack - Lee Smith
    If Hamas is pacing its missile fire, it means theyre in it for the long haul. If theyre crossing red lines by firing missiles at Dimona as well as Ben Gurion airport, it means theyre going all out. The question is why.
    Some analysts point to likely Iranian involvement indeed use of the long-range M-302, not previously in the arsenal of Hamas, underscores that suggestion. The Iranians have a lot of cards to play in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions, as well as Hamas itself. As Israeli analyst Shimon Shapira commented recently, Iran is more than capable of going over the head of Hamass political leadership and arming its military commanders directly.
    Hamas may be putting on a demonstration for Tehran of how helpful it can be to the Islamic Republic. With Hezbollah tied down in Syria fighting alongside Assad, Hamas is another tool of Iranian deterrence should the Israelis consider striking Irans nuclear weapons facilities. (Weekly Standard)
  • Hamas Useless Attempt to Plead Innocence - Lenny Ben-David
    There is a media campaign underway attempting to wash the blood of three innocent Israeli teens off the hands of the Hamas terrorist organization. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority urgently seek exoneration to protect the PA-Hamas reconciliation agreement.
    The whole issue of who did this, we dont know, really, even though Israel managed to punish everybody, said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official, to The New York Times. Hamas has never been self-effacing. Whenever they carried out an operation, they always declared it and took responsibility. According to Israeli reporter Shlomi Eldar, a rogue group was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three boys.
    Hamas denial of responsibility is a longtime tradition in Palestinian terrorist operations. The lies provided plausible deniability to the PLO and Yasser Arafat in the early 1970s. In September 1971, Fatah secretly established a terrorist unit called Black September to carry out major attacks on Israeli and Western targets, such as the murder of Israeli sportsmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Terrorist leader Salah Khalaf (aka Abu Iyad) wrote in his book Stateless that members of Black September always denied any ties between their organization and Fatah or the PLO.
    The decentralization of Hamas today is vital to its operations and the survival of its leadership. Who is responsible for the kidnapping of the Israeli teens and the rocket barrage from Gaza launched at Israel? None of its leaders, Hamas claims. All of them, Israel insists. No one should absolve the terrorists leadership, even if the lines of authority are temporarily and purposely blurred. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Operation Protective Edge: The Goals, and the Strategy to Achieve Them - Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin
    The strategic purpose of the operation is derived from the states obligation to protect its citizens and enable them to pursue a normal way of life. Restoring deterrence to achieve another period of quiet was a major strategic achievement of prior operations and a primary objective of the current campaign. While deterrence addresses the motivation to fire at Israel, the current operation should also deal with the capabilities of Hamas and smaller terrorist organizations, particularly Islamic jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. The operation must be directed mainly against the military wing of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations, and strike a severe blow against their commanders, operatives, launching capabilities, and production capacity.
    Regarding a combined operation, with air and ground attacks, based on intelligence, the public tends to see only two models of action, aerial or aerial with a large scale ground operation to occupy Gaza. Yet even if we do not intend to occupy Gaza, a ground operation is necessary and almost essential. There is a high level of synergy between an aerial operation and a ground operation. Without a ground operation, Hamas will remain underground. A ground operation against high value targets will create friction with the terrorist organizations military wing and allow both an aerial and a ground force to attack them and their operational infrastructures. (Institute for National Security Studies)
  • The Father of Irans Revolutionary Guards Missile Program Is Firing at Tel Aviv - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    As the Gaza operation continues, activity on social networks, some of which are identified with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is intensifying, glorifying the role of Iran in general and of the IRGC in particular in upgrading the Palestinian terror organizations ability to launch rockets into the heart of the cities in Israel.
    Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam was in charge of the IRGCs self-sufficiency program for weapons and military equipment and is considered the father of Irans missile program. He was killed when an IRGC ammunition warehouse exploded on November 12, 2011. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    The New York Times' Editorial on Israel Was a Sloppy Hack Job - Yishai Schwartz (The New Republic)

  • The New York Times Jerusalem reporters have a notoriously difficult job, one in which every word and phrase is parsed by tens of thousands of partisans just waiting to pounce. For the most part, the reporters do a very good job.
  • But its precisely because of the high quality of the Times Middle East news coverage that the glaring factual flaws in this weeks editorial, Four Horrific Killings, are so astounding. I spotted three:
  • First: The editorial chides Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his days of near silence after the brutal murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir But the Times itself was already reporting Netanyahus condemnation of the killing as an abominable murder.
  • Second: The editorial quite reasonably criticizes some Israelis for giving in to their worst prejudices with racial incitement. But in cataloguing specific examples, the editorial lists Netanyahus supposedly incendiary reference to a classic Hebrew poem of lament. The poem Netanyahu referenced is worth a read, but its not remotely objectionable. In fact, Bialiks The Slaughter is an outpouring of anger against God, and the very phrase quoted by Netanyahu explicitly rejects the possibility of human revenge.
  • Third: The editorial references the grieving Hussein Abu Khdeirs gestures of compassion and understanding as a source of hope. This strikes me as a bit odd the day after Mr. Abu Khdeir took to Israeli television to say a number of deplorable things.
  • The most plausible explanation for the first two errors strikes me as relatively simple: The Times editorial board doesnt like Bibi Netanyahu. You dont have to like Netanyahuor even find his brand of politics remotely appealingto realize that this editorial crossed the line from opinion to hatchet job.
  • The third misrepresentation may have been motivated by an exaggerated zeal to create a clean narrative of parallel Israeli and Palestinian descents into violence. A mourning Israeli family's gestures of compassion needed a Palestinian parallel. And the Times fudged things a bit to make Mr. Abu Khdeir fit the bill. The desire to equate and compare, to measure Palestinian pathologies against Israeli pathologies, is both bizarre and unhelpful.
  • The writer is a reporter-researcher at The New Republic.

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